Health coalitions across country denounce for-profit blood supply deal

PV staff 

Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has signed a 15-year deal with global health corporation Grifols, allowing the company to collect blood plasma for profit. 

In response, the Canadian Health Coalition and 8 provincial health coalitions have issued a joint statement denouncing the deal and calling for the resignation of the CBS Board of Directors and CEO.

Under the agreement, Grifols will pay donors for plasma. This is in violation of legislation in BC and Ontario which bans private payment for plasma. Healthcare experts and advocates have strongly opposed such payments, which are also against the advice of the World Health Organization and other international health bodies. The Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada (Krever Commission), which was created after the 1980s tainted blood scandal and led to the creation of CBS, identified five governing principles of the blood system including that blood should be a public resource and that no one should be paid to donate blood or plasma. The CBS deal with Grifols violates those principles and the trust which the public placed in the agency when it was created.

The health coalitions note that voluntary blood and plasma donations have been negatively affected in provinces which allow private payment. They also note that Grifols has a record of taking busloads of people from Mexico into the US to harvest plasma and then return them to Mexico the same day.  

Grifols is based in Spain and operates in more than 30 countries around the world. In the first half of 2022, the corporation made profits of EUR 618 million (about $892 million). The company’s financial statements state that this profit was primarily driven by plasma collection, which increased by 22 percent in the period and which Grifols expects to “further accelerate” in the second half of 2022. In the face of such blood profiteering, Grifols’ claim that its operation in Canada “reflects the company’s global strategy enabling countries to reach self-sufficiency in plasma” is exposed as utterly false.

The health coalitions charge that the deal “endangers the sustainability of Canada’s blood supply by opening up a precious and medically crucial public asset to profit-making. Instead of blood being a universal and free public resource, this deal opens up the doors to private, for-profit corporations moving into the blood collection system.”

The coalitions also point out that there are proven public and non-profit avenues for increasing and protecting the voluntary blood and plasma supply. These include building more publicly operated collection sites. 

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